Early release sought - Recognising terrorism

MICHAEL McKEVITT, one of four men found liable for the 1998 Omagh bomb in a civil action taken by relatives of the dead, is coming towards the end of a 20-year jail term for directing terrorism. He was also convicted of membership of the Real IRA. He had a cancerous kidney removed in May.

The 17th anniversary of the Omagh bombing, which killed 29 people, will be marked next month. Not only did it kill so many innocent people it, for a short while, jeopardised the nascent peace process. Some of us may have forgotten, but it sent a shudder of horror across this island.

Five members of the Oireachtas — Éamon Ó Cuív, Clare Daly, Mick Wallace, Maureen O’Sullivan and Thomas Pringle — have lobbied for McKevitt’s early release. It behoves us all to be humane and forgiving, but we should remember who the “Real IRA” are, what they stand for and how they pursue their objectives.

They are, like Isis, terrorists without any democratic mandate, indeed their existence is an affront to the vast majority of people on this island who voted to accept the Good Friday Agreement. They are dangerous, unrepentant fantasists, happy to undermine this democracy.

That Mr McKevitt’s son should, this year, describe his terrorist father as a “political prisoner” shows just how deep and dangerous is the fantasy informing their beliefs. It also suggests that one of the objectives of a jail term— repentance — has yet to be achieved in this case.

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